Neshoba Democrat Editor and Publisher James E. “Jim” Prince III was re-elected to a second term as president of the Mississippi Press Association during the trade association’s 147th annual meeting in Biloxi last week.
Neshoba Democrat Editor and Publisher James E. “Jim” Prince III was re-elected to a second term as president of the Mississippi Press Association during the trade association’s 147th annual meeting in Biloxi last week.
Neshoba Democrat Editor and Publisher James E. "Jim" Prince III was re-elected to a second term as president of the Mississippi Press Association during the trade association's 147th annual meeting in Biloxi last week.

Robin Weaver in 1934 is the only other Neshoba Democrat editor to be elected president of the organization that represents the state's 120 daily and weekly newspapers.

At the meeting, the Democrat received three first place awards in a contest judged by the Hoosier State Press Association.

In taking the helm of MPA for a second one-year term, Prince said when a community loses its newspaper it loses its soul. (See complete text of speech, page 6A)

"For us, content matters," he said. "Good newspapers that serve their communities well will survive and thrive. Go out of your way to get more names and faces in print. Put additional content on the web, but don't give it away for free."

The state's community newspapers like the Democrat remain strong with seven in 10 Mississippians reading their local newspaper regularly, he said.

"Nearly half of Mississippi consumers say the newspaper is their primary source for sales and shopping information, followed by their second choice, television, at 13 percent. There is, no doubt, power in print," Prince said.

Reports of the death of newspapers are proving to be greatly exaggerated, he said.

But, "So what!" Prince said, the newspaper industry still must innovate and adapt or die.

He challenged his colleagues to market their newspapers better and to focus on quality content.

"Focus on improving ad sales rather than cost reduction," he said.

Cutting out days of publication isn't the model that will win the day, Prince said.

He applauded The Sun Herald on the Coast for not buying into the notion that print is dead.

"Many of you, even in much smaller markets, remain committed," Prince said. "Look at The Dallas Morning News and The Orange County Register. They've opened their news holes and focused on more content. I believe theirs is the model that will win the day."

The Democrat captured three first place awards, one second place and three third place awards in the 2012 Better Newspaper Contest.

Prince received a first place award for commentary column, "Call me crazy, too."

The column was about James Meredith's mission to expose moral decay in society, particularly in education.

The judges said, "[The column was] strong, compelling and thought-provoking writing on subjects some columnists would shy away from, particularly those that address faith."

The Democrat also captured a first place award for best front page.

The front page of the Feb. 6, 2012, edition scored high marks with the judges for "clean design," "great use of typography" and "good action shots."

The website www.neshoba democrat.com won first place for best website.

Among other awards, Steven Thomas, Harrison Hadaway and Keith Warren won a second place award in pictorial series which featured the Neshoba County Fair.

Also, in pictorial series, Sports Editor Steve Swogetinsky won a third place award for "Let's Go Fishing."

In the Spot News Story category, Managing Editor Debbie Burt Myers and Steven Thomas won a third place for their collaborative article on a trailer fire that claimed the lives of three children.

Thomas won a third place award for best lede for his article entitled "Tornado."

Over 2,600 entries from 58 newspapers were judged by volunteers from the Hoosier State Press Association.